Thursday, May 4, 2017

Making the case for each lottery team to trade their first round pick

Once the ping pong balls had stopped bouncing and Saturday’s draft-lottery announcement was complete, we knew two things: 1) That the hockey gods hate the Colorado Avalanche, and 2) The order for this year’s top 15 picks. The bottom half of the draft is still sorting itself out in the playoffs, but the top half is locked in.

Well, at least for now.

While the order is set in stone, the picks themselves could still change hands via trade. This year’s first round has been unusually stable as far as deals go. Only two picks have changed hands, with the Blues getting Washington’s pick in the Kevin Shattenkirk deal and the Coyotes getting Minnesota’s for Martin Hanzal. (A third pick is still up in the air, as the Stars could still get Anaheim’s first from the Patrick Eaves trade.)

That said, "easy" isn’t necessarily fun, and we like to have some fun around here. In what's expected to be a weaker draft, maybe this is the year that we can talk some GMs into shopping their picks. So today, let's see if we can make a case for each of the lottery teams to trade its first-round pick. This will get tougher as we get closer to the first-overall pick, so we'll start out easy and work our way up to it.

Pick No. 15: New York Islanders

The case for a trade: The Islanders just endured a disappointing season, following up their first playoff series win in 23 years by missing the playoffs and firing their coach. But they only missed the wild card by one point, so it's not like they're a candidate for a full-on reset.

Maybe more importantly, this is a team that has some serious incentive to win now. They're looking for a new arena deal, and those can be easier to come by when you've got some positive momentum to build on. There's also the John Tavares situation; the Islanders' franchise player is eligible to sign an extension on July 1, and he may not be interested in spending what's left of his prime treading water for a middle-of-the-pack team.

Add it all up, and mix in some new ownership that's going to want to see some progress, and waiting around two or three years for another prospect to be ready is going to be a hard sell for Garth Snow.

Does it hold up?: It's a pretty solid case. It's not like Snow is going to be able to land a superstar for a mid-round pick in a weak draft, but using the 15th choice as an asset in a deal would make a lot of sense.

Pick No. 14: Tampa Bay Lightning

The case for a trade: We all figured they were Stanley Cup contenders, and maybe they still are. But after a season where just about everything went wrong, their window seems a lot smaller than most of us thought. Trading their top pick for immediate help would make a lot of sense, especially since anyone they draft from this spot isn't likely to be a difference-maker any time soon.

Does it hold up?: On the surface, sure. But the problem in Tampa is the salary cap, where Steve Yzerman barely has enough room to handle all the guys on his current roster. Adding another veteran would be tricky, so while the Lightning's focus should be on right now, Yzerman may not have any choice but to bank this pick for down the line.

Pick No. 13: Winnipeg Jets

The case for a trade: This year's Jets season played out just like all the others since the team's return — lots of young talent and plenty of potential, but, ultimately, zero playoff wins. Kevin Cheveldayoff has been preaching patience for years now, but at some point you need to start winning.

Fans in Winnipeg are among the most loyal in the league, but they've been looking one or two years down the road for six seasons now. The team needs to take a step forward someday. If not now, when?

Does it hold up?: You'd think so. Dangling the team's top pick – maybe for goaltending help — seems like a reasonable play. But no team in the league has been more reluctant to make big trades than Cheveldayoff and the Jets, so let's file this one under "unlikely."

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

No comments:

Post a Comment